About Advertise
Reality, Sport
Stoke Street

Stoke Street

by Roger Young, images Justin McGee / 04.01.2010

“They go out every day, whatever the conditions,” says Tom from Umthombo as the kids are suiting up. It’s Saturday, nearly noon and the young surfers have been held back from their morning surf because they were waiting for us to deliver the eleven boards that one of Mahala’s faithful, Josh Reynolds, has collected over the Christmas season.

As Tennyson and some of the others bring the boards in, the newer street kids, those in phase one of the program, still living on the street, just being taught the basics in a swimming pool, stand around and look at the boards, some dinged and some in pristine condition, hunger in their eyes. These kids are in that stage where they have started to desire more waves, better boards and a stable life.

This is what Umthombo does, it helps street kids that are addicted to glue to become addicted to waves. As they watch the older more experienced surfers inspect the boards and discuss the merits of each one, astounded smiles creep onto their faces. They will not get these boards now, for there is a system here that means they only get the good boards when their surfing improves and they are able to temper their behaviour, to start fitting back into society. But any new influx of boards means that there is hope, these boards represent a goal, something to work towards.

Andile is happy that the boards are here, for the other kids, but now he just wants to surf, he has his board out and is waxing it in anticipation, three years ago he was living on the street, now he attends school, which is a bummer, because it means he can only surf afternoons and Saturdays and by us being late we have kept him from his precious, life giving waves. So we let them go, twenty surfers walking to the beach, stoked to be getting some waves, to have something to live for.


Stoked Grom

Yellow Board

Street Tough


Wax On


All images © and courtesy Justin McGee

22   3
  1. bryan little says:

    super rad

    just wondering ..
    didnt see any of them rding any waves so i cant tell where this is ?

    are they looking for more boards (+wetsuits) and where can you drop them off?


    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  2. Andy says:

    Hey Bryan, we’re always looking for more boards. We’ll collect from anywhere in the country. Please just drop me a line at andy@mahala.co.za and I’ll organise.

    The Umthombo project is based in the Durban city centre.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  3. jujuman says:


    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  4. marcus lyon says:

    Dear Andy

    Marcus here, friend of Shervorn Monaghan’s, we met in CT in 2006 over a very interesting dinner at her brothers house…hope all is well with you in SA. Currently in Brazil for a month but just checked out the Mahala site…always fascinating. Back in UK I am now chairman of The Consortium for Street Children and actively supporting projects Globally. Umthombo and Amos Trust are having a Street Children World Cup in Durban in March – I am sure you know – but it would be great to see a series of articles relating to the BIG issues surrounding street involved youth on the site in the run up to this event??? I would be happy to organise a small group of global experts to liaise with you and the SCWC team to create a powerful examination of key issues? Please mail through ml@theglassworks.co.uk if you would like to move on this..

    as ever


    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  5. Graeme Feltham says:

    Once again, Wodja Wabbit turns a buck by turning on the fulcrum of apparent change – darkies on surfboards – blissfully unaware of the inherent class consciousness that still pertains.
    Think the text took away from the images.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  6. kd says:

    Yeah Greame, I suppose you could be a total chop and look at it that way.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  7. Graeme Feltham says:

    Yeah kd, I suppose you could be totally blind and fumble at employing your analytical apparatus seeing it is the texture of shredded wheat.
    Choppity, chop, chop,chop.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  8. Roger Young says:

    Feltham, you missed a review of mine, why don’t you go post a nasty comment there attacking the subject of the story as a way of attacking me. I know it’s personal, I know you didn’t like the fact that I gave your album a negative review, but really, make better music, don’t shit all over everyone else’s good work.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  9. Josh Reynolds says:


    This is so awesome bru, I can’t tell you the feeling I got when we delivered these boards. Tom has created a little haven for these kids and it seems worlds apart when you step of the dodgy street corner and into Umthombo. I am super proud and stoked to be invloved. Even the response I got from the people donating the boards was enough to keep me smiling well into the year.

    Gonna need a truck!!!!!!!

    Dirtbin boys and girls, lets get together and donate a new quiver. Looking to do another handover sometime in Feb.


    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  10. Graeme Feltham says:

    Poor delusional Wodja Wabbit.
    I couldn’t care less on your pronouncing on that which you can’t hear – for example, my album. And though I attack your thinking I could never get personal with soneone as cudiddly as you. My original contribution stands – it’s simply true. There is no need for you to get on your high horse and inadvertantly place my work on a pedestal.
    It exists on its own. Pristine, sublme. Go to the gym, man, don’t tell me to go to the studio where the work for now is done. Don’t bother me with tiresome replies.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  11. Sean Reynolds says:

    You guys are AWESOME! I am so proud of you all – go tell Spider Murph and gang that they can help too! This is such a good move. May the universe bless and reward all of you with humungous perfect waves day after day after day … every time you hit the water

    Sean (Josh’s Dad)

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  12. Gregg Coppen says:

    Great job guys…. always awesome to see the stoke of surf touching ppl of all walks of life and providing incentive and motivation.

    Nice one on the boards Josh..

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  13. Roger Young says:


    You see darkies, we see underprivileged kids who need a leg up. And you accuse me of an “inherent class consciousness that still pertains”?

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  14. T Heehee says:

    Fantastic project, thanks for the article.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  15. stirrer says:

    or is that troll?

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  16. Uno de Waal says:

    Pretty damn cool to see the kids getting involved like this. I was in Uganda recently, kayaking on the White Nile river and a similar type of setup operates there. Guys come from all over the world and then leave their boats and sometimes gear for the locals to use on the river. The local paddlers there are some of the best paddlers I’ve seen – they don’t push the boundaries much but they certainly know their river and skills.

    Would be great if the Umthombo initiative could set a precedent for other areas like Muizenberg etc.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  17. Graeme Feltham says:

    Wodja Wabbit says: Feltham

    “”You see darkies, we see underprivileged kids who need a leg up. And you accuse me of an “inherent class consciousness that still pertains”? “”

    If you read my missive carefully, Roger dear, I don’t accuse you of that. That would be like blaming you for the sky being blue. What I do refer to is your blissful ignorance of class conscience. It goes without saying that giving these kids a leg up is a great thing. But by ignoring the class aspect you fuck with the longevity of the initiative. Gettit?
    Further it is a rather sparse promotion of said initiative – linked to your inability to fully read the ramifications of the means of production. Surfboards don’t fall outta the sky.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  18. Roger Young says:

    And there is the thing Feltham, surfboards do not fall out of the sky. We collect them. Part of what mahala does is provide these initiatives with surfboards, through events we throw around the country designed to get boards, through this site and through mahala friends going around and asking for them from surfers, they then come to mahala and we get them to the closest initiative.

    Further to this, there is a huge class aspect to this, there is a shit storm going down at the moment, Andy Davis is currently writing a story on that. In this instance we decided to just, y’know write something nice to thank all the peeps who donated boards without getting too sentimental and slushy about it.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  19. Graeme Feltham says:

    Good one. Finally allowing sense to prevail, Wodja Wabbit.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  20. NORMAL@webmail.co.za says:

    Amazing project. Keep it up!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  21. Riaan Manser says:

    Magic stuff Josh

    Spending time bringing some positive impact in chidrens lives through sport
    Is way better than lobbying to make these kids even more aware of their lack of resources and at same time reminding them of their percieved lack of status (class) in our world.

    Darkies on surfboards ? Geez , more like kids having fun . . . . . . . . And opportunity !

    Go for it

    Riaan Manser

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  22. Pablo says:

    Geez Graeme, don’t know what “Wodja” did to you to be the recipient of your not-so-latent aggression, but can I suggest that you have the guts to approach him directly about it, and not muddy the responses to a generally positive short piece reporting on people trying to create positivity within the confines all this class consciousness. (At least he had something positive to say)
    And as for making a “buck”, I am pretty sure Wodja did this one for “Mahala”

    Keep up the good work Andy and Roger.

    PS Andy, Did my old Pacific Dream longboard make it back into the water yet, hopefully with a “blissfully unaware” and joyful “darkie” on it?

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  23. Anonymous says:

    brings me much joy, we will be heading onto canada in a few months time and we for surely sure have a few boards and wet suits that we would like to donate on into ya’z. radness.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  24. Riaan Manser says:


    Classic stuff.

    “Blissfully unaware”

    Well said.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  25. Andy says:

    Hey Anonymous.. just let us know. Please contact me here for the collection andy@mahala.co.za

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  26. Elaine says:

    Great images, what a creative project. Well done, hats off.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  27. […] the past arrived at Umthombo with 12 new surfboards this weekend. For more info read the following: http://www.mahala.co.za/surf/stoke-street/ Thanks to everyone at Mahala and to surfer, Josh Reynolds, for collecting the awesome […]

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0